After our daughter Meredith was born, our pediatrician came by the birthing room for a first checkup. The doctor told us, “She’s perfect.” Well, I could have told her that. Joy and I had already begun the misguided journey that many parents take.
|Ilya Repin’s “Nativity”|
To paraphrase Brené Brown, we are all born imperfect. And each of us is going to stay that way. Moreover, we are all hardwired for struggle. We will make mistakes, get our hearts broken, take wrong turns, disappoint ourselves, let other people down, suffer loss, and wonder when the rest of the world will discover what a fraud we are.
|Edward Burne-Jones’ “Love Among the Ruins”|
God doesn’t lack anything, so he’s not trying to fill some hole in his heart with somebody else’s approval or applause or comfort. In other words, he doesn’t become a human so that he can get from us the love that he craves.
|John William Godward’s “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”|
More than a few of us believe that you have to be some form of perfect to be loved. You have to be at the top of your career or at the head of your class. You have to be sexy or well-dressed or athletically exceptional or financially successful or on the front cover of People magazine.
In the manger, Jesus tells us that we belong to him simply because he wants it that way. He loves us first so that we can love only as the beloved can.
Love is messy business. Imperfect beings connecting to each other heart to heart. God designed our lives to be just this kind of holy mess. To be honest, we have made our life an unholy mess in a myriad of ways. But Luke’s birth narrative highlights one such way in particular.
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty. ” (Luke 1:51-53; BCP)